ACT announces pay-per-view schedule

The Altoona Community Theatre has announced three virtual productions beginning with the return of Rail City Improv at 7 p.m. Oct. 22 with “Live, Distanced, and (probably) Drunk.”

Rail City Improv’s online performance is free but donations are encouraged, according to ACT’s Michelle Barnes, who serves as publicity chair for the all-volunteer troupe.

ACT will stream “The Final Act of Dr. Faustus” at 7 p.m. Nov. 6 and 7 and at 2 p.m. Nov. 8, and “Kaleidoscope” a one-act play, written by the famed sci-fi author Ray Bradbury, featured at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 13. Each will cost $10.

To find out how to donate to ACT or to participate in the pay-per-view performances, visit www.altoonacommunitytheatre.com or call 943-4357.

The members of Rail City Improv, under the direction of Jonathan O’Harrow, will use the format made popular by the comic variety show “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” Virtual audience members are encouraged to suggest humorous situations for the cast to bring to life.

Rail City Improv features the comedic talents of Jonathan O’Harrow, Gigi Campbell, Ben Cossitor, Tara Enedy, Maria Perehinec, Mark Perehinec and Karen Volpe.

Rail City Improv, also known as RCI, first performed in 2013 as part of United Way of Blair County’s Laugh United event. They have since performed for audiences of up to 500 people at state business and professional organizations and private events, O’Harrow said.

“We’ve opened for well-known comedians including ‘Last Comic Standing’ finalist Rocky LaPorte, Mark Eddie, Aaron Kleiber and Drew Lynch, the stuttering comedian, of ‘America’s Got Talent.’

“We also offered public performances regularly at McGarvey’s Bar and Grill in the Juniata section of Altoona,” he said, noting their comedy ranges between PG-13 and R.

“The group has been on a bit of a hiatus for the last year, as our members have taken time to focus on and enjoy life changes including marriages, retirements, new careers and the birth of children and grandchildren. We’re excited to have this opportunity to both have a virtual reunion and raise some money for Altoona Community Theatre,” O’Harrow said.

“Over the past several months, ACT has been seeking out opportunities to offer two different types of online presentations,” O’Harrow said. “The first is online performances, for which tickets will be purchased. The second type of event is more focused on community building and less on fundraising. Our Rail City performance fits somewhere in the middle of these two event types.

“So we decided to offer the event for free, but will be strongly encouraging those in attendance to make donations to ACT at whatever giving level they can,” he said.

ACT and RCI member Enedy of Hollidaysburg said community financial support is critical to the all-volunteer organization.

“I hope that people will tune in and support live theater even if it’s not what you hope it would be in a theater. We want to get back on stage as much as people want to come see us, so we hope people will support us now so the organization is around (later),” she said.

The performers have been rehearsing via Zoom, Enedy said. And, while “different” it “still feels good,” she said. In “Kaleidoscope,” Enedy plays the role of Captain Hollis. “Kaleidoscope,” is under the direction of Jerry Cox, according to Barnes.

“Acting is such a creative exercise and it’s wonderful to be back doing it with some of my closest and dearest friends,” Enedy said. “It’s been hard to lose both your hobby in community theater and also to lose contact with your friends. At least we have something to collaborate and work on” with these streaming events.

“They are two very different kinds of project improv comedy versus a very scripted drama,” Enedy said referring to “Kaleidoscope” — about astronauts on a journey to Mars. The one-act is “a little more sci-fi which is unusual (for ACT) and very philosophical and existential as you would expect from Bradbury.”

“I don’t want to give too much away, but the astronauts have to deal with something and think about their lives … it’s very Bradbury in how he weaves human themes into an interesting environment,” she said.

The “Kaleidoscope” cast includes Tony Malvoisin, Michael Manfred, Becky Robinson, Richard Gray, Ryen Beam, Courtney Fowler, Izzy Willis and Amanda Mascitelli in her ACT debut, Barnes said.

Tom Liszka is the director of “The Final Act of Dr. Faustus” which is based on Christopher Marlowe’s classic, “The Tragical History of the Life and Death of Dr. Faustus.” The play tells the story of the famously brilliant scholar who sold his soul to the devil and ACT’s production focuses on the last day of Faustus’ life.

Introduced by the late Steve Helsel, the performance features David Misera, Tara Enedy, Rodney Berkey, Kristine Allen, Hannah Misera, Sister Caroline Caritas (aka Kelsey Ingold) and Valerie Stratton, with additional tech by Marjorie Long, Carl Newfield and Marlene Liszka.


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